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Paracetamol restrictions reduce overdose admissions

12 May 2017

The introduction of legislation restricting the number of paracetamol tablets that members of the public can purchase to 24 in a pharmacy and 12 in a non-pharmacy setting has reduced the number of hospital admissions for paracetamol overdoses (POD), research has found.

In this first study to assess the impact of the legislation at a national level, clinicians at the National Liver Unit at St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin collected data for POD from 1997 to 2011 from the Healthcare Pricing Office in the HSE, which collects data for inpatient admissions.

The data from the five years before and after the legislation were compared (1997-2001 vs 2002-2006) and the researchers also compared data from 2002–2006 to a further five years (2007-2011) to see if the changes were maintained.

A total of 14,225 patients were admitted to hospital suffering from POD between 1997 and 2006. Of these, 7,647 were admitted between 1997 and 2001 and 6,414 between 2002 and 2006, a reduction of 1,233 in the four years immediately after the legislation was introduced.

The paper was presented at the British Society of Gastroenterology, British and Irish Gastroenterology Meeting last month in Belfast, and was published in a special supplement in the journal Gut (April 2017, Volume 66, Supplement 1).

june.shannon@imt.ie

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